A fighter pilot in World War II, Zeder participated in the U.S. invasion and repatriation of Attu and Kiska Islands in the North Pacific. He retired from the Air Force Reserve in 1951 with the rank of major.
Following the war, Zeder founded several successful businesses and was admitted to the Young Presidents' Organization in 1960. From 1956 to 1975, Zeder was chairman and CEO of Hydrometals Corporation, a diversified manufacturing company that he moved from New York to Dallas in the early 1960s. He served as chairman of the board of Paradise Cruise Corporation in Hawaii from 1978 to the present.
Zeder first entered government service in 1971 when elected to the City Council in Dallas, Texas, where he also served on the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport Board.
President Gerald Ford appointed Zeder in 1974 to serve in the U.S. Department of the Interior as director of the Office of Territorial Affairs with oversight for U.S. policy and programs relating to American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
In 1982, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Ronald Reagan's appointment of Zeder as the President's personal representative for Micronesian status negotiations. Holding the rank of ambassador, Zeder concluded the historic Compact of Free Association Act of 1985. This compact was the first successful political status resolution process for U.S. administered territories since Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union.
Zeder was appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1988 as president and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In this role, Zeder promoted private investment and supported U.S. national interests in 130 countries. Under his leadership, OPIC played a major role on behalf of President Bush in supporting the Solidarity Union reform movement that ended communist rule in Poland. Following Poland, Zeder and OPIC turned their attention to each Eastern European country that emerged from communist rule. Similar efforts were made in the Soviet Union, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Zeder served as district director of the National Alliance of Businessmen, vice chairman of the Committee of Publicly Owned Companies, and a founding member of the World Business Council. He served as a special advisor to the Fund for America's Future from 1987 to 1988, a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a trustee of the George H. W. Bush Library. He was also a decorated Knight of Malta.
Zeder was married to the late Martha Blood for 57 years, with whom he had five children. In 2001 he married Dorothy Post Rodgers.